One of the highest leverage projects that can be implemented to streamline financial activities and reduce month-end reporting timelines is revamping the procurement and payables processes. There have been major advancements in the technology for Accounts Payable teams that enable them to be more efficient and paperless.
~ Automated workflows for purchase requisition approval at the front end of the process, using the appropriate delegated authorities
~ Access to a supplier’s online price list with automatic emails to a supplier if PO is within the delegated authority of the order placer
~ Electronic receipting of goods and services
~ Full integration into ERP or FMS
~ Purchasing cards, web-based coding/ approval, and invoice capturing apps
~ Web-based expense claim system for non-P card users
~ Electronic payments (may the checkbook RIP!)
~ Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for data capture
~ Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) feeds of invoices from major suppliers (which include the general ledger codes for your system)
~ Posting remittances for suppliers on your website for suppliers to access as required (rather than having to email or post them to suppliers)
~ Allow key suppliers with secure online access to their AP account so they can reconcile their ledger
Using the suggestions above, controlling the use of non-approved suppliers for transactions where a P card cannot be used, and executing thorough staff training from skilled AP staff, the procure to pay process can be significantly simplified. How much waste would be eliminated from your organisation with no physical paper sitting on desks, waiting for a signature?
With each transaction traditionally costing anywhere between $50 and $80 to process and with many of these transactions representing minor amounts, streamlining these processes is very attractive and has a fast ROI.
As a final note, it is crucial to 'sell the investment’ in streamlining the process to the CEO using emotional drivers to garner support for the project and to bring in line any budget holders who ‘struggle’ to get their coding done on time.